How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (2023)

How do you dye your hair with henna? What is the process like? Is henna safe to use? What do you need to know? We’ve covered all of the information that you need in a very detailed DIY complete with photos. As an alternative and all-natural hair dying method, you will definitely want to read this before embarking on your first henna hair dying adventure.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (1)

This article is brought to you by Jessica Sanchez of Zoda Design. Jessica is a dear friend and has been a trusted member of the Pink Fortitude team for several years as our web and graphics designer. And she is a fellow ginger!


I’ve been using henna to dye my hair for well over a decade. I love that it’s permanent – no amount of washing, drying, or product use will cause the color to fade. The only thing you really have to worry about is coloring your roots as they grow out (personally I wait until my roots have grown around 2 to 3 inches and then I just re-henna my whole head). I’m lucky enough to not know from personal experience, but I’ve heard that it covers up gray hair really well. You can also use regular hair dye over henna.

The color you get with henna can sometimes be a little hard to predict as well. If you have light-colored hair, expect a brighter shade of orange, and if your hair is dark, you may not even notice a difference at all. There are all sorts of additions you can make to henna in order to get closer to a specific color, however, it may take some trial and error to get the specific results you’re looking for.

It’s also important to keep in mind that dying your hair with henna is a process – it requires planning ahead of time! When you initially mix your henna, it will take around 10 to 12 hours for the dye to release. I typically mix it up before bed and then dye my hair the next day. Also, once you’ve coated your hair with the henna mix, you will need to leave it on your head between 3 and 6 hours! Make sure you plan accordingly.

If you’re definitely ready to give henna a try, the first step is to purchase body art quality henna from a reputable retailer. I use Ancient Sunrise henna and have always gotten great results, but feel free to do your own research on products so that you’re confident you’re getting the best available henna.

Look for henna hair dyes to be 100% pure henna and plant-based, made withONLY dried, powdered lawsonia inermis, andwithout contaminants, chemical dyes, or metallic salts.

Items you may need include:

  • Henna hair dye kit
  • Glass or stainless steel bowl
  • Latex gloves
  • Plastic wrap
  • Carrot bag (though using this can sometimes be more annoying than helpful)
  • Lots of old towels
  • Lemon juice.

It’s also helpful to have a friend with you, either to help in applying the henna or to point out spots you may have missed.

The amount of henna you’ll need will depend on the length of your hair! Typically henna comes in 100g packages. I have shorter-than-shoulder length hair and I generally use about 2/3 to 3/4 of a package to dye my hair. I recommend buying extra just in case you’re not sure!

Once you have your henna and other supplies, it’s time to get started!

Since the henna you use to dye your hair comes in a powder, it is necessary to add an acidic liquid in order to allow the dye to release. I’ve tried numerous acidic liquids (coffee, tea, juices, etc) but the one tried and true liquid that always works for me is lemon juice.

The mixture is pretty simple – first, place the desired amount of henna into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Next, pour in some lemon juice and mix well with a spoon or a fork. The amount of lemon juice will vary depending on the type of henna you purchased and the amount of henna in the bowl. Start small and continue to add lemon juice until your mixture resembles the consistency of mashed potatoes and no longer has any big clumps of dry henna. If you find that it becomes too thin, simply add a little more henna and stir again.

Mixing the Henna

Henna Consistency

Once your mixture has the correct consistency, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in a warm place for 10 to 12 hours. (I typically put it on top of the refrigerator.)

Psst… wanna know which skin care ingredients are toxic, hormone disruptors, and carcinogens? Click below…

Once the dye has released, it’s time to dye your hair! You can tell that the dye has released if the top of your henna mixture has darkened – see the photo below. If it’s not yet ready to go, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for an hour or two.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (2)

If the dye has released, put gloves on and give it a quick mix with your finger. The consistency will have changed to that of smooth, creamy peanut butter. Now’s the time to separate your hair into sections – this step helps make the henna application process a bit easier.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (3)How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (4)

Once you’ve sectioned your hair, start applying henna at the base of your neck. You’ll want to apply it very thick, sort of like frosting a cake, releasing and adding sections of hair as you go.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (5)How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (6)

When all of your hair is covered with henna, wrap it in plastic wrap or cover with a plastic bag. This helps to keep the heat in, and the heat helps the dyeing process.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (7)

Once your head is covered with plastic wrap, you’ll want to remove any extra henna that may have come into contact with your skin. Wet down a towel with warm water and use a mirror (or a friend!) to find all of these areas. Henna will stain your skin and you want to remove it as quickly as possible to minimize this. Definitely plan to check behind your ears, the tops of your ears, the back of your neck, and around your hairline. Also check your shoulders, chest, back, and the walls and floor around you – sometimes henna likes to fly off into crazy places!

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (8)

When you’re done touching up your skin, cover your head with a towel and go about your day. Plan to leave the henna on your hair for at least 3 hours, and up to 6 hours if you have resistant gray. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can speed up the process by applying heat with a salon dryer or a heated blanket, but make sure you leave the plastic wrap on your head. Henna can dry out and it becomes very difficult to remove once that happens!

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (9)

When your allotted time is up, simply rinse the henna out of your hair in the tub or sink. I also like to shampoo afterwards, just to make sure I got everything out. You can use conditioner as well, if you like.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (10)

Dry and style your hair like normal.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (11)

Natural henna has a very distinct smell, kind of like grass or hay. This smell can stay in your hair for about a week after dyeing, so if you can’t tolerate it, there are some additions you can make to your mix that will help. Try ginger powder or cardamom powder (one heaping teaspoon per 100g henna).

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (12)

Henna will darken over the next week or so. As you’ll notice, my roots were bright orange once I was done blow drying! After a week and a half, it had darkened to a nicer auburn. (I also had some lowlights put in afterwards, proving again that you can use regular dye over henna!) If you have an event and you’d like to henna your hair for it, make sure you do so about two weeks in advance.

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (13)How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (14)

While the process of dying your hair with henna is a lengthy one, it’s well worth it. Not only does henna make your hair look and feel healthy, but the color you get is so gorgeous! If you’re interested in learning more about dyeing your hair with henna, I recommend you read the free ebook by Catherine Cartwright-Jones, Ph.D. on Henna for Hair.It’s chock full of really great information that can help you get exactly what you want out of this amazing natural dye!

Other great resources:

How to Make All-Natural Red Hair Dye – The DIY and Pictures

Madison Reed Hair Dye (free ofammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates,and gluten. And Leaping Bunny certified)

How to Dye Your Hair with Henna (complicated, but worth it!) - Pink Fortitude, LLC (15)

Be sure to download your FREE List of Toxic Skin Care Ingredients and practice safer skin for yourself and family!

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What is the best way to dye hair with henna? ›

Gradually add a little freshly boiled water to a small amount of henna and stir until you have a lovely creamy paste. Apply to a section of hair about half an inch wide (including twinkly grey hairs if you have any). Leave to develop for two hours, then shampoo, rinse and dry.

Is it better to put henna on wet or dry hair? ›

Damp or fully dry hair is fine. 7. It is best to do all of this right before applying henna, rather than the day or evening before.

What color will hair turn with henna? ›

Henna leaves contain a bitter tannic substance called lawsone, which is activated by water to bind with the keratin protein found in hair — not only coloring the hair but deeply conditioning it as well. The finer the leaves are ground the more lawsone is released to stain the hair a rich reddish-brown.

How long do you leave henna hair dye in? ›

For highlights, you may leave the henna on your hair for 1-3 hours, depending on the intensity of the color you want. If you are looking for a deep, rich color or want to cover gray hair, keep the henna on your hair for 3-4 hours.

How many hours should henna be soaked before applying henna? ›

Let Your Henna Mixture Soak

After preparing the mixture, it is recommended to let it sit a minimum of 3-4 hours. However, I like to let it sit soak as long as possible, to give henna a chance to fully release its dying properties.

Does henna cover GREY hair? ›

Will henna cover gray hair? Yes, but it is a bit of a process. The short version is: for best results on gray hair, we recommend using Rouge henna first then applying a darker shade like Brun or Marron.

Can henna reverse GREY hair? ›

Yes. Henna is the best and the safest natural henna to cover your gray hair. It leaves a reddish-orange tint on the hair strands after drying. However, the results depend on the natural color of your hair.

What is the healthiest hair dye? ›

Our best overall pick is Biolage Haircolor, a henna dye that's free from harmful chemicals including ammonia and PPD. We also love Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit, which is free of ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PDD, phthalates, and gluten, plus the added benefit of being packed with hydrating ingredients.

Why add lemon juice to henna for hair? ›

Lemon Juice:

Henna attains best dye release with lemon juice as it acidic in nature. Deep red henna will look more burgundy because of the acidic nature of lemon. Also, it is the best remedy for hair problem like dandruff.

Is 2 hours enough for henna? ›

Apply henna for maximum 2-3 hours in one time, more than that will make hair excessively dry and it will start breaking up. 5. Preconditioning & shampoo should be done before henna application, rinse your henna with plain water only after the process. 6.

Should you shampoo after henna? ›

When Should I Wash My Hair after Henna? No matter what type of hair you have, you should always leave it at least 48 hours after rinsing out your henna to shampoo with any kind of detergent at all. This is because it takes 48-hours for Henna to fully oxidise (which means deepening exposure to light).

What is the best henna to cover gray hair? ›

Choosing a Henna Shade to Cover Grey Hair

For stubborn greys, go with a medium-tier color gradient. Burgundy and Mahogany henna are an all-time favorite in this genre. For a dark color scheme, you can pick deep red henna, dark brown henna, jet black henna, and wine-red henna.

Can a hairdresser dye over henna? ›

Hair Dyes after Henna: If henna isn't for you and you want to get back to commercial hair dyes, it's fine to backtrack within the first two to three weeks. Ideally, however, we recommend that you wait two months or longer after your last henna application.

How do you cover GREY hair with henna? ›

Apply oil to your hairline and ears to protect them from staining, then use gloved hands to apply the henna to dry hair. Wrap the dyed hair in a shower cap to keep the henna moist and warm, then leave the mixture in your hair for 1-4 hours. Do not leave it in overnight. Unwrap your hair and rinse with water.

Should I oil my hair after applying henna? ›

After applying henna, oil your hair using mustard oil, and shampoo your hair the next day. This will leave your naturally conditioned and soft, and the results will last longer.

Does leaving henna on longer make it darker? ›

The longer you leave the henna paste on the skin, the darker and longer lasting your color, because it stains more layers of skin cells. As the skin cells exfoliate away, there are still layers of stained skin below them, and that is why your tattoo will stay much longer if you leave the paste on longer.

What can I add to henna to make my hair darker? ›

You could also add indigo powder to your henna mix to make henna darker for hair, and it could end up giving your hair a dark brown or black look. Some people also trust brewed tea or coffee or beetroot.

Why is henna not working on my hair? ›

The henna paste was not stored properly and the dye has demised. If henna is not being actively used, it should be frozen. While at room temperature, henna paste continues to release dye. At some point, all the dye will be released and the henna will leave very light stain for no stain at all.

Does henna increase hair growth? ›

#1 Henna improves hair growth

The natural properties of henna promote hair growth. The powder can be used to create an essential oil that nourishes and encourages growth. Boil 250 ml gingili oil until it starts to smoke. Add 5 cups henna powder to the oil and let it boil for 5-6 minutes.

How can I cover my GREY hair without henna? ›

Grey hair touch-up sticks, sprays, and brushes are effective, easy-to-use tools for camouflaging unwanted silver strands. After washing and drying your hair, all you have to do is apply to your greys following the product's instructions. When selecting your color, look to your hair's natural hue or your usual dye.

What is the best hair color for seniors? ›

Silver, ashy, blond, and platinum are indeed the most popular hair color choices for women over 60.

What is the best hair color to cover gray? ›

Neutral shades like soft blonde, mushroom brown, light copper, and caramel blonde balayage are the easiest to blend gray into (and maintain over time without wanting to shave your hair off).

What is the most damaging hair dye? ›

Permanent hair dyes do the most damage, so It's important to stay away from that type of hair color as much as you can.

What does adding vinegar to henna do? ›

Additives to Mix With Henna Hair Dye

The acid in apple cider vinegar or freshly brewed tea and coffee can help henna bind to keratin, a protein that provides structural support to the hair's cuticle and cortex. Two to three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar are enough to help deepen color and reduce redness in the dye.

What liquid to mix with henna? ›

Henna requires an acid to break down the dye molecule contained within its leaves. Bottled or fresh lemon juice is the perfect companion to henna as it is very acidic, reliable, readily available, affordable, and safe. It makes no difference in the final outcome if you use fresh or bottled juice.

What happens if you let henna sit too long? ›

If the paste is left too long before use, the aglycones bind to surrounding molecules and to the oxygen in the air until there are no precursor dye molecules left to bind to the hair. This is called “demise.” Demised henna will result in poorer coverage with a weaker, less permanent bond.

What can I mix with henna for hair growth? ›

For Hair Growth

To use henna for hair growth, mix 3 tablespoons of henna powder with ½ tablespoon each of brahmi, curry leaf, amla, and purified gunja seed powders. Add 1 teaspoon of onion juice to this. Now, add hot water to prepare a paste. Let the paste soak for a few hours before applying to your hair and scalp.

Does henna make hair thicker? ›

Henna hair dye is considered a good conditioner for your hair, and as a result can make it stronger, thicker, and shinier. It may help to restore the natural pH balance of your hair and scalp, too!

Do you rinse henna with hot or cold water? ›

Rinse Henna paste out thoroughly with warm water, ending with cool water. This can take some time. It's like rinsing mud out of your hair. Using conditioner quickens the rinsing process.

Which shampoo is best for henna dyed hair? ›

8 Best Henna Shampoos - May 2023 Results are Based on 1,091 Reviews Scanned
1Mamaearth Henna Shampoo & Conditioner with Henna and Deep Roast Coffee 250ml 9.7 View Product
2Mamaearth Henna Shampoo, for enhance hair color, with Henna and Deep Roast Coffe 9.5 View Product
6 more rows

What should you avoid after henna? ›

Avoid chlorine, salt water, dishsoap, bleach, other cleaning materials, and any other harsh chemicals. You can bathe and shower as usual. Avoid hand sanitizer – it is the #1 thing that unintentionally kills henna stains FAST. Acetone nail polish remover has also been known to fade henna stains more quickly.

How long does henna cover grey hair? ›

How long does henna hair dye last? If you're using henna hair dye to color grey hair, keep in mind that henna hair dye is a permanent option for coloring your grey hair. This means that the color will be most vibrant in the first 4 to 6 weeks, but it might gradually fade after that point.

How long should I keep henna to cover GREY hair? ›

You should leave the mixture in for one to two hours. One hour is usually sufficient, but color may deepen slightly if you leave the mixture in for two hours. Hair is unlikely to deepen further after two hours, so do not leave the henna in longer than this.

Why did henna turn my hair green? ›

Most important of all, one key tip that could turn the hairs green is if you don't SET your henna prior to continuing to apply layers. What this means is, once you mix the henna with the developer, wait a few minutes for the consistency to be correct.

How long do you leave henna on before washing it off? ›

The minimum amount of time to leave your paste on is said to be 6 to 8 hours but, if you want a deep dark stain, you might want to wait even more. So this means no shower after henna application. The usual practice is to get your henna done in the evening so you can sleep the hours away..

Does henna hair dye eventually wash out? ›

Henna Only:

The dye is permanent and may fade very slightly through washes but generally has to be grown out. The hair, however, can be lightened and brightened. There are a number of ways that can be used to help fade the henna color.

Does VapoRub make henna last longer? ›

Dabbing on a mixture of lemon juice on sugar and semi-dried henna will make it stick to the skin for a longer time. You can also apply Vicks VapoRub after all the henna has flaked off and keep it overnight. Warming your hands close to a stove or fire helps too.

Does Vaseline help with henna? ›

Lubricate your Henna design with oil before swimming or bathing to protect it from water. You can use olive oil, corn oil, canola oil, and also other natural vegetable oils. Avoid using any petroleum products, such as baby oil or petroleum jelly, because it will shorten the life of your drawing.

Where does henna last the longest? ›

It is generally safe to say that henna lasts one to two weeks on and around the hands. Other areas, especially foot designs, henna typically last longer, even up to five weeks. Everyone's skin is unique in the amount of oils it produces and how quickly it exfoliates and regenerates new skin.

Should you put henna on clean or dirty hair? ›

Step 2: Prepare the hairThere's no need to shampoo hair before a henna treatment unless the hair is dirty. In fact, I discourage it; too much washing is one of the major causes of dry, unmanageable hair. Try applying henna just before you're ready to wash your hair.

Should you wash your hair after dying it with henna? ›

When Should I Wash My Hair after Henna? No matter what type of hair you have, you should always leave it at least 48 hours after rinsing out your henna to shampoo with any kind of detergent at all. This is because it takes 48-hours for Henna to fully oxidise (which means deepening exposure to light).

Should I shampoo before or after henna? ›

Preconditioning & shampoo should be done before henna application, rinse your henna with plain water only after the process.

How do you moisturize your hair after henna? ›

Nutrient-rich banana is also beneficial for hair. Make a thick paste by mixing aloe vera gel and hair oil with one mashed banana. Now, apply this paste to the hair after applying henna. Keep for half an hour and then, wash with a mild shampoo.

What can I mix with henna to avoid dryness? ›

Because the texture of the hair after henna is so frequently mistaken as dryness, some people choose to add ingredients such as coconut milk or oil, egg, milk, yogurt, and other plant oils to their henna mix to prevent this feeling of dryness.

Why is my hair so dry after henna? ›

Henna Itchy, Sore & Burning Scalp? Here's what you can do! So, if you already know your hair tends to become dry, you MUST add a humectant ingredient to your mix: fenugreek, flaxseeds gel, rice or maize starch are perfect because they keep hair hydrated without interfering with the color release on hair.


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